Cougars suffer first loss in WCC play

BYU suffered its first loss in WCC play on the road at Saint Mary's on Saturday. (Photo by Bella Torgerson/BYU Photo)

MORAGA, Calif. – The BYU women’s volleyball team fell in five sets (25-23, 25-23, 12-25, 22-25, 11-15) on the road at Saint Mary’s on Saturday to suffer their first loss in West Coast Conference play.

“Tough loss to Saint Mary's tonight,” BYU head coach Shawn Olmstead said. “Hats off to them for making adjustments and pushing us. We can learn from this and get better.”

Junior Tambre Haddock led the team in kills with 16 from 58 attempts, to go along with nine digs. Sophomore libero Ciara Parker led all players in digs with 19, while sophomore setter Camry Godfrey contributed 53 assists. Freshman Whitney Young and Senior Kathryn LeCheminant led the team on defense with six blocks apiece. Sophomore Alexa Gray and senior Jessica Jardine were also in double-figures with kills at 14 and 10, respectively.   

Gray gave the Cougars their first three points of the fifth set from kills, as they took a 3-2 lead early on. The Gaels powered back, though, to take a 7-5 lead. A Saint Mary’s service ace put the Gaels ahead by three at 11-8, and forced a BYU timeout. The Cougars were unable to come from behind as Saint Mary’s took the match with a 15-11 fifth set win.

Haddock put the first points of the match on the board with a service ace. The two teams traded points from there with neither squad taking a dominant lead early on. The Cougars then jumped to a four-point lead thanks to a Gray kill at 13-9. BYU took advantage of multiple Gael attack errors to go ahead by six at 18-12, which forced a Saint Mary’s timeout. The Gaels tried to rally near the end of the first set, but it proved to be too little as the Cougars won 25-23.

The second set began point-for-point as neither team could find its rhythm. It wasn’t until three consecutive BYU points that the Cougars were able to get the largest lead of the set at 12-9. Shortly after, a pair of Haddock kills quickly extended the Cougar lead to five at 17-12. The Gaels didn’t give up so fast, though, cutting BYU’s lead to two at 24-22. The Cougars came out on top in the second set 25-23 after four-straight set points.

Godfrey got things started in the third set with a service ace, but Saint Mary’s quickly pulled ahead 6-2. BYU struggled to find a way to stop the Gaels’ offense, as they took a nine-point advantage at 18-9 from a Jordan Shaw kill. Saint Mary’s easily took the third set 25-12.

The Gaels started out strong again in the fourth set, taking an early 5-2 advantage. BYU powered back to tie things up at 7-7 from a combined Jardine and LeCheminant block. The score was tied again at every point from 11 to 21, with neither squad able to maintain a large lead. Saint Mary’s got a two-point lead at 23-21 from a service ace and used that momentum to win 25-22 and force a fifth set.

The Cougars continue conference play next week as they return home to take on Loyola Marymount in the Smith Fieldhouse Thursday at 7 p.m. MDT. The match will be broadcast live on BYUtv. Links to live stats can be found on the BYU women’s volleyball schedule page.

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